Social media plays an integral role in the lives of teens and young adults and is a way to express ideas and share photos. However, social media can change from a fun tool to a major detriment if students post the wrong things online.
Results from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of college admissions officers show that schools are increasingly discovering information on social media sites that negatively impact applicants’ acceptance chances. Offenses cited included essay plagiarism, vulgarity, alcohol consumption in photos, things that made them “wonder,” and “illegal activities.”
While the percentage of admissions officers who checked social media sites as part of the applicant review process increased slightly, the percentage who said Facebook activity negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting into the school nearly tripled, from 12% last year to 35% this year.
This data shows that not only are admission officers checking students’ social media more often, but more students are posting damaging content on their pages. Freshman Taylor Byers, an exercise science major from Orem said that she did not even think about altering her online content when she applied for BYU last year.
“(College admissions) know your name and everything, but I didn’t really think about it,” Byers said. “I didn’t have to worry about changing anything when I was applying for BYU.”
Students must be vigilant about keeping their digital trail clean for both college admissions and future employers. In addition to keeping negative content off of their profiles, students can also highlight positive aspects of their profiles in order to become more attractive applicants.
Colin Gruenwald, Director of SAT and ACT test prep for Kaplan said that students must know what is happening in the social media field and what they can do about it.
“Students need to understand that representing yourself in a positive light is possible through social media,” Gruenwald said. “(Social media) develops in ways that nobody can predict (and) students need to know they can do something about it.”
According to Todd Hollingshead of University Communications, BYU does not currently look at students’ social media content when determining whether or not students will be admitted.
However, when it comes to social media usage, it is better to be safe than sorry.